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The Art of (Open) Rehearsals


As theatregoers, we only ever expect to watch a perfect show. But it takes hours and hours of rehearsals for the magic to happen.

The ArtisTree Open Rehearsal Series offer a new way for audiences to enjoy the arts, but it also opens up a new opportunity for performers to experiment in front of a live audience, an experience that The Nonsensemakers’ Jo Ngai and Rensen Chan are ready to embrace.

“The idea for Emoto began with Water Knows the Answer, a book by Japanese scientist Dr Masaru Emoto, based on his experiment on how water crystallised according to its surroundings,” says Producer Jo Ngai, who will also star in the rehearsals. The theatrical interpretation of Dr Emoto’s findings has so far been a two-year “electronic” collaboration with James Sutherland, the Director of CITA, International Centre for Theatre Arts, who is stationed in Japan. Over a ten day residency at ArtisTree, the Hong Kong rendition of Emoto will come together for the very first time.

Appropriately, these rehearsals will be just like water: fluid. Ahead of the rehearsals, little has been confirmed, making this residency a forum for experimentation and to explore how to translate the concepts in Emoto to the stage.

“We will use physical theatre to represent this complicated issue,” says Artistic Director Rensen Chan. Along with puppets, video projection and music, “we need real water on stage!” he says. “I wanted to make two pools to perform in… I don’t know if it will work, so, let’s try it!”

Emoto’s Open Rehearsals will consist of both closed and open door rehearsals, leading up to a final showcase performance.

“It’s very rare in Hong Kong to be able to rehearse and experiment inside the actual performance area,” says Ngai. “The same performance area, the same size, same environment.”

Any other thing that’s rare? Live audience interaction and immediate feedback, which, according to Ngai, is invaluable to the show’s development and success. “Previously, we rehearse and go straight into the performance,” she says. “We can’t do anything about comments; everything is already set.” Open Rehearsals, however, change all that. “[We] are with the audience in the process, so there will be more flexibility to think about the show, and the experiment, before we make alterations. It’s somewhat like we are working on something together.” “For closed door rehearsals, we can only imagine what they think,” adds Chan. “But now we can get their feedback directly.”

Open Rehearsals are a new and enthralling concept to even these theatre veterans – one that they may or may not be ready for. “Actors always take risks,” says Chan. “It might work, maybe not work, maybe the audience will see us fail, but let’s try something new.”

Open-door Rehearsals
17 & 20 August, 12.45pm

Final Showcase
22 August, 12:45pm & 6:30pm

Open-door Rehearsals
16 & 18 July, 12:45pm

Final Showcase
20 July, 12:45pm & 6:30pm

Free admission; registration required.

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